Technology Innovation Scholars Program

“Engineering is important to me. I want to make a real difference.”

We face a critical shortage of engineers, largely because many young people who might choose a career in technology innovation don’t know what engineers do or how they improve our quality of life.

Enter the Technology Innovation Scholars Program (TISP). TISP recruits and trains some of Boston University’s most talented engineering majors and sends them to middle and high schools around the country to explain how engineering can transform our lives. TISP Inspiration Ambassadors give interactive, fun presentations that frame engineering as essential to our quality of life—from the cleanliness of the water we drink to the distribution of the energy we use to power our homes. K–12 students explore the design process and see themselves as problem solvers, engineers, and future leaders of technological innovation.

Impact

TISP has made significant strides since its founding in January 2011, and is growing all the time. Trained Inspiration Ambassadors have:

  • Increased in number by 150% to more than 60 undergraduate engineering students involved.
  • Reached 24,000 K-12 students in 27 states and 9 countries.
  • Mentored 35 high school FIRST® Robotics teams.
  • Engaged K–12 students who are twice as diverse as current engineering colleges: approximately 25% underrepresented minorities and 50% female.
  • Developed a transportable, scalable model than can be shared with other colleges for increased national impact.

Assistant Dean Freeman recently received a National Science Foundation Early Concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) to explore national-scale evaluation of undergraduate outreach programs, like TISP. The title of the grant is: Co-Creating a Research Agenda to Evaluate University Ambassador Programs’ Impact on Engineering Identity of K-12 Students. We hope to be able to create effective tools and techniques to measure the impact of K-12 outreach not only on the undergraduate students, but the school-aged students we serve.